Ash + Oak Women in Business

When did you start your business or career?

I started my little biz 4ish years ago. 

What do you do?

I make custom swimsuits, exclusively. I don’t believe in bikini bodies. I don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all approach to fashion and in standardizing sizing. I don’t think you only get to be comfortable and feel incredible on the beach if you’re one specific body type that most the swimsuit industry is making them for. I want everyone to feel good and do whatever they want to do in my suits, whether that’s lounge in the beach or swim or surf or hike to waterfalls or river raft, etc. every size body should be able to be comfortable while they play. 

Who inspired you or what inspires you?

I studied Community Activism/ Social and Economics justice in college and feel consistently influenced by what I learned. Because of that I’d say I’m inspired by tons of activists (intersectional feminists mostly) in my mission and work, but stylistically I’m influenced by 30s, 40s, and 50s women’s fashion and vintage workwear.  

A struggle you face in your business?

I struggle to stay organized. I live and work in a school bus that’s on the road half the year, so I’m constantly pressed for space and time .... in addition to just being a cliche creative who would rather make things then work on excel sheets 

Have you stay true to your brand or have you changed it throughout the years?

I believe I have stayed true. If anything I have become more honest about it. I think I was afraid to say super political things on social media (like: “the patriarchy loves diet culture, because it’s hard to tear down decrepit power structures when you’re just really very hungry”) , but I think my feminist agenda is an integral part of what I’m doing and making.... so I guess I have refined my brand

Ash + Oak Women in Business

Something that scares you?

I’m afraid I’m not pulling it off. I feel like I’m constantly breaking even, so there is a real fear that if anything breaks down everything else will crumble

Ash + Oak Women in Business

Who would you like to work with someday? Collaboration or Ideal Company

I dream of getting my fabric printed with the artwork of my sister @mimimeghan and my friend @tuttifruttialice 

How did you come up with your business name?

My business name was a bit of an accident... it started as a bunch of things I would make for friends and family and would label/sign “luv, Martha” and then it caught on and I felt like I couldn’t change it!

What type of music do you listen to?

Oh so many types but my go to music is Otis Redding or Billie Holiday

What’s your morning or work week look like?

Great question!! It’s different every week and definitely changes quite a bit in my peak seasons (spring/summer) but basically: 

   — emails and admin stuff over morning coffee (I tend to sleep in soooo ‘morning’ is more of a mindset’)

   —.sewing sewing sewing

   — if needed: afternoons spent in cafes drinking tea and/or a beer and working on website stuff/ meeting with clients

  — some evenings and weekends spent doing Speaker series, podcasts, zines, events, etc 

It’s a lot to keep track of and a lot of bouncing from administrative to maker to public speaker but I keep my day planner on me constantly and have lists everywhere to keep it all straight! 

Ash + Oak Women in Business

What do you do to keep your sanity?

I listen to oh so many podcasts and audiobooks while I work. It helps me feel like I’m learning, I'm engaged and I’m constantly growing... I think I’d lose my mind if I didn’t feel like I was connected to the world around me and informed on the happenings—- being a full time maker can be incredibly isolating so audiobooks and podcasts have become my biggest allies 

Give one tip or advice to someone who maybe interested in your biz?

Be true to yourself. Don’t be afraid to show people who you really are through your brand. I was told to keep politics out of my business, I was told to use “real models”, I was told to do so many thing that didn’t feel right for me and in the end I am SO glad I didn’t listen. And also try to trade your goods for as much as you possibly can! 

Ash + Oak Women in Business

Things you learned the hard way.

Ahhhh so many things!! But primarily to ask for help with anything you don’t know (in my case website building and tax/administrative stuff). AND that it’s okay to be afraid and unsure... I am still afraid of failing and I’ve been doing this passion project full time for years now. I was hard on myself for my fear and that’s ultimately just detrimental. Accept the fear and do it anyway!

What is your studio situation?

My studio consists of half my school bus: a huge industrial sewing machine, a few back up machine, vintage school lockers stuffed with fabric and hanging bins bolted to the ceiling that I refer to as the “shipping and receiving office” 

Do pay for accounting and other admin work?

I actually just hired a super sweet friend (for trade!) to make me all the spreadsheets I’ve been desperately avoiding... and set up my quick books!

Ash + Oak Women in Business

Where to find Luv Martha